Forum reflections

July 11, 2017

Clare Rudall (Head of Membership, Business in the Community Cymru) looks back at a past Members’ Forum event from June this year and considers the digital challenges facing companies in Wales.

140 characters on social media can move markets. A single teenager can access, albeit illegally, customer data held by a major company. Jobs could be at risk – but could be created in different sectors that haven’t been created yet. The March of the Robots, the 4th Industrial Revolution – whatever we call it – presents a challenge to business. 

Figures vary, but Adroit Economics has estimated that where new technologies are truly embraced by business, an additional £47bn in GVA could be generated for the UK. In Wales this would mean a very welcome extra £1.5bn. Salaries in the “digital sector” are higher on average and the total value of the “digital sector” in Wales is around £370mn. But at the same time Wales faces social and demographic challenges in this area. Wales has the lowest levels of internet access across the UK and only 62% of the population have basic digital skills (compared to 82% in Scotland and the South East of England).

What does this mean for business?

All of this comes together to create challenges and potential opportunities for society and business.

This was the focus of BITC Cymru's last Members' Forum, held in June at Swansea University School of Management. We were joined by organisations as diverse as Capgemini, Castell Howell Foods, Broomfield Alexander and Hafod Housing Association to hear from Dr Simon Brooks from the School of Management and to discuss the issues and opportunities in front of companies in this Brave New Digital Wales in which we find ourselves.

Companies had the opportunity to network and discuss some of the topics covered in our Brave New World report which examines how responsible businesses continue to operate in this digital era. In addition to covering cyber security and data protection, delegates also took the opportunity to raise some of the topics they are working on right now. Specifically, the changing nature of work and the workplace was thrown into sharp relief by members – especially those with a diverse age demographic in their place of work. 

How to address the challenges?

How should a company which wants to embrace a 'less paper' or paper free existence and flexible working approach ensure they can support those workers who are uncomfortable making the change. In some places this issue splits along age lines, however that is not always the case. But when these issues are addressed, it is the responsibility of businesses to do so in a way which doesn't exacerbate those same issues – or contribute to the digital divide inside or outside of their organisation.

Our Members' Forum events are the perfect space for companies to come together, network and share best practice amongst peers. The digital and technological challenges that one company are facing are likely similar across organisations and so by working together, more companies can achieve more positive outcomes.

You can access the BITC Brave New World report here and priorities document here.

To find out more about BITC Cymru's Members' Forum events in the period July 17 – June 2018, or how you can join our Network, please contact cymru@bitc.org.uk.

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